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USA Today

King Wins Battle Vs. Ruiz Over Tyson Bout; But Judge's Ruling Only Temporary

By Dan Rafael

August 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 USA Today. All rights reserved.

Heavyweight titlist John Ruiz didn't beat Don King in court, which might damage his chance to meet Mike Tyson in the ring.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain denied Ruiz's request Thursday for a temporary restraining order that would prevent King from interfering with arrangements for a November Ruiz-Tyson bout.

Swain upheld King's 1998 promotional contract, which gives him the exclusive right to negotiate Ruiz's fights. However, the ruling was temporary. A Sept. 6 trial is scheduled.

"I thank God for the American justice system," King said. "I am going to move full steam ahead and try to get this fight done."

Ruiz attorney Anthony Cardinale said the ruling was a setback, but King is now obligated to "in good faith and fairly try to negotiate a fight between Johnny and Tyson."

If King doesn't, "then on Sept. 6 we are going to court to finish this case," Cardinale said.

Ruiz (No. 7 USA TODAY, 38-4-1, 27 KOs) sued King on Monday, saying King was not acting in his best interest because King was trying to block a Tyson fight.

Ruiz could earn more than $10 million to fight Tyson, easily his biggest purse. Ruiz's lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said King refused to make Ruiz-Tyson until Tyson dropped a $100 million lawsuit against King.

King said two weeks ago in an interview with USA TODAY that settling the lawsuit was a precondition for him to make the fight. King also wanted options on future Tyson bouts if he beats Ruiz. Last weekend King said he changed his mind, but Ruiz sued anyway.

"No strings attached," King said last Friday. "(Tyson) can fight a series of fights for me, or he can walk away. He can take his money and I will take my money, and we can fight each other in court."

Cardinale said King may have said that publicly but privately was still insisting on options.

Tyson adviser Shelly Finkel he spoke to King on Thursday and they are working on the fight.

"(King) said he's willing to make it without futures, but he still wants them," Finkel said. "Ruiz is still our first choice. My gut feeling is it's probably 50-50."

Finkel said Tyson's second choice is a fight with Clifford Etienne.

King corrects Tyson: Even if King and Tyson make a deal for a Ruiz fight, they'd have to reunite again if Tyson ever wants to fight Evander Holyfield for a third time, according to King.

In a recent TV interview, Tyson said, "Once (Holyfield) cuts his connection with Mr. King, it is going to happen."

Not according to King. "Holyfield cannot fight Tyson without Don King even if his deal with me runs out. Any time he fights Tyson, I got the rights to it," King said. "Tyson has to come here for a Holyfield fight. He can't get around that."

King said his contract with Holyfield, which expires in March, contains a clause that says even if Holyfield doesn't re-sign with King, he retains promotional rights to Holyfield-Tyson III.

"He's been trying any way he could to change that, but I ain't changing it," King said of Holyfield attorney Jim Thomas.

Thomas had no comment.

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